Developing virtual field experiences for undergraduates with high-resolution panoramas (GigaPans) at multiple scales
Jennifer L. Piatek, Candace L. Kairies Beatty, William L. Beatty, Michael C. Wizevich, Alex Steullet, 2012. "Developing virtual field experiences for undergraduates with high-resolution panoramas (GigaPans) at multiple scales", Google Earth and Virtual Visualizations in Geoscience Education and Research, Steven J. Whitmeyer, John E. Bailey, Declan G. De Paor, Tina Ornduff
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Field experiences are the cornerstone of a successful geoscience education, but these activities can be difficult (if not impossible) to include in many geoscience courses due to practical concerns. Virtual field exercises, presented through a series of high-resolution zoomable panoramas created with a GigaPan® robotic camera mount and associated software, allow students to gain experience interpreting outcrops and landscapes when physical travel to a site is not feasible. Exercises incorporating GigaPan panoramas have been developed for a number of undergraduate courses at different levels within the geoscience curriculum. Students in introductory-level courses are presented with exercises that explore local geology and illustrate basic concepts such as faulting and cross-bedding. Exercises for intermediate-level courses include analysis of geomorphic features in relation to bedrock type, the influence of landforms on historical events, and interpretation of shear stress orientations and magnitudes from small-scale structural features in outcrop. More advanced exercises, utilizing multiple-tier panoramas that range from outcrop to thin-section scales, have been developed from existing field research projects. These examples represent the initial effort to develop an extensive catalog of interactive self-paced exercises that will be incorporated into classes across the geoscience curriculum.